Tech rises to challenge

When disaster struck the U.S. on Sept. 11, affecting the entire world, lines of communication went down and people were left wondering if family members were all right; organizations were left wondering if their businesses would survive.

Many technology companies stepped up to offer support to both families and fellow businesses.

ClickArray Networks Inc. donated its Array1000 and Array500 integrated Web infrastructure appliances to organizations that required assistance in maintaining performance of their Web sites. Recipients included local, state and federal agencies, non-profit agencies, other community-based organizations, corporations and news organizations.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company had in place an emergency response program that assisted organizations that rely on their Web sites to provide the latest news or to aid the relief and recovery efforts in New York and Washington.

Lawrence Lu, president and CEO of ClickArray said everyone was shocked and affected by the attack, and the company was anxious to support the recovery effort in any way. “During this time, people are relying on the Web to provide them with late breaking news and information. ClickArray’s emergency response program is our way of lending a hand and helping organizations to keep their sites up and running.”

Vector Networks Inc. donated 300 licences of its PC-Duo remote control software to the Red Cross team, which allows the organization to remotely connect all of the desktops at its satellite locations across the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania). The Red Cross can use this to create a united force of workers.

Andrew Parsons, vice-president of Duluth Ga.-based Vector, said that even though the company is miles away from the disaster site, vector empathizes with the people in New York and Washington who have been affected by this incident. “We hope that this donation hastens the relief effort and can help bring comfort to those in need.”

Sun Microsystems sent support teams to New York and Washington to assist in recovery efforts and established a support hotline for companies needing assistance in disaster recovery and IT systems assessment.

The company also offered “loaner” equipment for affected Sun clients. is set up to offer as much information as it can for companies trying to recover.

Fluke Networks Inc. in Everett, Wash., announced that they had initiated an emergency relief program aimed at helping companies and organizations affected by the attack restore communications service.

Chris Odell, president of Fluke, said that e-mail and other forms of data communications are the backbone of any organization. “To assist in re-establishing damaged network infrastructure, Fluke Networks will provide loaner equipment, technical expertise, expedited delivery and on-site assistance until service is restored to those affected networks.”

Many tech companies offered their time and expertise to help those companies and people in need after the attack.

Ongoing process

But the still wealthy technology sector has always been quick to give time and money to those in need.

Compaq Corp. in Houston has continuously provided leadership to other companies through its corporate giving policies.

President Michael Capellas, who is very involved in volunteering and giving personally, said that community giving is based on a core foundation that corporations do have a social responsibility.

Capellas, who is the head of Boys and Girls Clubs in Houston, said that giving is not a “should you or do you”; people fundamentally have that responsibility to contribute to the community.

“I’m a great believer that companies succeed on personal leadership. You cannot have one set of beliefs and attempt to overlay them when it comes to your company,” he said. “You have to give of your time and talent.”

He added that this has been built into Compaq’s corporate policy – that it has a social responsibility. Compaq focuses its giving on the environment, the digital divide, and research and development.

“I have been quite active and I’ve done this for a long time. Do I believe that I have personally made a difference in the acceptance of this in our company? Absolutely. By and large it is not a difficult thing to sell. People love to get involved in the community, you have to give them the opportunity.”

Good for the soul

Bill Berges, president of Oracle Canada, agrees wholeheartedly. Employee giving programs and opportunities boost morale.

Berges said that people generally want to help out. Oracle Canada has a corporate giving program that is unique to Canada.

Donations through this program are to four different areas – environmental protection, endangered animal protection, medical research emphasizing cancer, AIDS and neuroscience, and kindergarten to Grade 12 educational programs.

“We take requests from organizations on a quarterly basis. As long as they meet the requirements, typically we will donate or give.”

Oracle Corp. started a volunteer program last year that gives employees a chance to volunteer with Oracle support.

“We are kicking the program off with our global volunteers day. Anyone who wants to give their time to something that fits within the corporate categories can do that – they have the day off. In Canada, this year, we are working with an interim shelter, so our employees will go over there and help out,” Berges said.

He added that there will be other volunteer opportunities throughout the year.

“There is a very positive response from our employees,” he said, adding the company is adopting a city block in Mississauga – which they will keep clean – and working on a home renovation for Habitat for Humanity.

“Our employees are excited about this. More than 40,000 employees worldwide will have the opportunity to volunteer and do something interesting and exciting,” Berges said.

He agreed with Capellas that the giving policies really reflect the philosophy of the individuals at the company and that evolves into a corporate policy that people will stay interested in.

Peter Blackmore, managing director for SAP Canada Inc., said that it’s easy to match employee and management philosophies to a corporate philosophy when it comes to giving, because most people who can, genuinely want to give of their time.

“For SAP one of the main areas of focus is education and donating time and money to initiatives that help people in school,” Blackmore said.

Joanne Moretti, area manager for Canada at Computer Associates, said that the company’s corporate giving commitment is rooted in their corporate culture and is celebrated by employees.

One of CA’s most rewarding sponsorships is The Smile Train, which helps children afflicted with cleft lip and palate, according to Moretti.

“CA’s management team allows employees to incorporate the services they donate (to The Smile Train) into their regular workday,” she said.

She noted that it’s everyone’s responsibility to give back to the communities in which they live and work. “We believe the technology industry has a special role to play in corporate giving because we can provide funds and time, as well as equipment, training and education.”